“TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — Environmentalists threatened Tuesday to go to federal
court to get the Environmental Protection Agency involved in the investigation and cleanup of radioactive leaks at the Indian Point nuclear power plants.
Officials at Riverkeeper claimed at a news conference that Entergy Nuclear
Northeast, owner of the plants, did not notify the EPA of leaks discovered
in groundwater under Indian Point, which is in Buchanan on the Hudson River,
35 miles north of midtown Manhattan.
By failing to inform EPA as required, the environmentalists said, Entergy
avoided “the involvement of EPA in the leak investigation and remediation
The leak, first detected in August near a spent-fuel pool, has allowed
radioactive isotopes including strontium-90 and tritium escape into the
groundwater and probably into the river, officials at Entergy and the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission have said. In spots, levels of radioactive
material have far exceeded the amount permitted in drinking water, though
there are no drinking water sources nearby.
In large amounts, strontium and tritium can cause cancer.
The threatened lawsuit _ Riverkeeper and the two named plaintiffs have to
give 60 days’ notice before filing _ “goes to our core mission of protecting
the Hudson River,” said Philip Musegaas, a Riverkeeper policy analyst. He
said the environmentalists could be dissuaded from suing “if Entergy were to
notify the EPA formally and the EPA got involved and initiated its own
investigation,” he said.
Jim Steets, an Entergy spokesman, said the company “made the appropriate and required notifications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which has jurisdiction over Indian Point.” The DEC acts as an arm of the EPA in such cases, he said.
Musegaas agreed that EPA sometimes delegates jurisdiction to the DEC but
said it has not done so in cases of underground storage of radioactive
materials. He said it was the EPA that got involved in the cleanup of
contamination at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island.
EPA spokeswoman Bonnie Bellow said Tuesday the agency would have no comment because it had not seen Riverkeeper’s notice of intent to sue.”